The social determinants of education:
Social determinants of education include the structural factors in which people are born and live such as - socioeconomic status, availability of transportation to school and other resources, access to healthcare, and a network of support. Educators cannot control all that goes on outside of the walls of our schools, but we can enhance and expand services for students and families in response to their needs. We need to identify opportunities to align programing within our schools and partner with community experts in order to streamline access to supportive services (e.g. mental health services). We need to ensure students’ well-being before we can engage them in powerful learning.
Reducing the achievement and access gaps:
Educational success should not be influenced by race, class, disability status, neighborhood, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The school board must focus on policies and programs which enhance the cultural competency and diversity of staff, deliver comprehensive and tiered support for students, engage families and community, and prepare our young people to be successful 21st century citizens.
Education equity can’t fall victim to politics or become an overwhelming challenge which leads to inaction. As a board member I will identify effective strategies our schools can implement with attainable results, and then ensure our district’s talented and dedicated staff have the resources needed to implement those strategies to fidelity. Our students deserve this, our families expect this, our educators are capable of this, and our community can embrace this.
As the executive director of a nonprofit organization which provides assistance to Federally Qualified Health Care Centers I understand the challenges of tight budgets for my own organization and those of the clients I serve. I also understand that difficult financial decisions are too often the norm for school districts throughout our state. I fear that we are hindering our future by clinging to the past. Making financial decisions requires an understanding of the existing context, but it also requires that we focus forward on opportunities. These decisions should involve thinking outside the box or engaging new partners, but ultimately our decisions must be based on our core organizational mission. We must focus on ensuring our students receive the greatest education we can provide.